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shud i mve on for bigger things

message posted 27-Jun-09 13:52:10
hi, im a young chef only 19 i started workin as a kp at the age of 15 and started doing a bit of cookin here and there and i loved it, so i got a full time job as a chef i started of doing starters and now doing a everything, im workin in a pub/restaurant it has won the AA award for seafood pub of scotland i have lernd from my boss he has shown me loads, i havent bean to collige shud i really go ? or shud i move on for bigger things but where.

message posted 29-Jun-09 16:56:55

Firstly, well done for having the balls to do it yourself.

Personally most guys / girls I have worked with have never bothered with college, in this country unless you find the exception most college lecturers are useless and the reason that they are lecturers is because they could not hack a real kitchen. NVQ (not very qualified)

I would personally learn as much as you can from the head chef and then move on to the next kitchen, learn as much as you can and then repeat the process until you are running your own kitchen.

However that said, a bit of paper behind your name is always usefull. Talk to your boss about sending you to college, I believe there are government incentives to do this now. Most large hotels will definatly do this as they have NVQ programs.

The choice is yours.

PS. I dont think there is one Michelin chef with an NVQ, guess that says a lot.
message posted 29-Jun-09 17:38:45
I agree to some extent with TonyD's reply - I started off a bit like you , but was thrown into the deep end cooking, didn't progress up the ranks so to speak.

I put myself through college, as despite the uselessness of college staff (and yes they are largely text book led), I wanted to know a bit more about the chemistry of food, why things happen as they do, why do some things burn - others not, what makes a cake rise etc.etc., plus a bit of kitchen French (the real kitchen language - not the expletives as I already knew them!), principles of menu planning and costing etc. - they are things you will (or should) learn in college, plus the other aspects of front of house which builds up a better picture for you to operate within.

The choice as TonyD says is yours, but if you can get your employer or another one to put you throught the courses on day release, bite their hand off. You will probably have to give a committment to your employer back though - sign up for the time period they specify, or payback may kick in if they pay for the course and you leave early.

Good luck whatever you decide to do
message posted 02-Jul-09 12:55:51
Hi Stevo

Hoped the replies helped. I found this article, it has nothing to do with your thread but it is a good article relating to food.

If you really think about the modern recipe, with its exacting (and often obscure) ingredients and dauntingly perfect photographs, it can be rather restricting. In the old days recipes were far more relaxed – mostly the personal scribblings of cooks and chefs who passed through a particular kitchen. Not for Victorian chefs an eighth-teaspoon measurement.

In fact, following a recipe to the letter can spell disaster. You should always cook according to the ingredients that you have, using your eyes, experience and palate to judge what works best. As long as you use good-quality ingredients and a little common sense, you can't go far wrong. That's the Seeds of Change philosophy – and they're not the only ones who adhere to it.

Take the doyenne of cookery writers, Elizabeth David. She often omits exact quantities in her books, yet all you need to know is right there. So should we use recipes at all? Of course we should - but we can treat a recipe as the starting point and let the ingredients dictate where the dish will go.

But first we need to understand how we taste - what happens on the tongue and in the mouth. We're talking acid, salt, sweet, sour and umami (aka the yum factor). Know where they hit your mouth and it will go a long way to explain how you experience food. You don't need a science degree, but it's definitely worth familiarising yourself with these concepts.

And then there's flavour. Understand why and how each ingredient works with another, and then in a combination, and you'll learn how to maximise that combination by substituting another ingredient or leaving one out altogether. When you've mastered that you can confidently create your own dishes.

Got a particular combination in mind? Then mentally taste the ingredients to see what they have in common. Is there sweetness? What is acidic or sour? What about saltiness?

Take a simple tomato salad. With sunny southern European tomatoes you'll get sweetness first, acidity second – no need for much embellishment there. Here in chillier northern climes it's most often the other way around, so you want something to balance that acidity and bring out the sweetness. Enter mozzarella. It's a classic background ingredient for tomatoes, its milky sweetness offsetting the tomato perfectly. Not all mozzarella is equal of course: if you can afford it, go for the best available (and make it organic; not only is it good for the environment – there's plenty of evidence to suggest it's better for you as well).

Same goes for the tomatoes. Indeed when creating your own recipes, the quality of ingredients is of paramount importance, something which Seeds of Change has realised. Simplicity is key. If you let the flavours speak for themselves, your work as a chef is so much easier as they won't need much embellishment. You'll have a mouth-watering meal in no time.

But back to the tomato salad. Now you need to enhance those flavours, so think of adding an ingredient that comes with plenty of salt, such as cured ham or anchovies. The addition of extra virgin olive oil will bolster the acid/sweet action already going on in the dish and give it more substance. Then you can add a touch of freshness by scattering the lot with freshly picked basil leaves or chopped flat leaf parsley. Finally, a grinding of black pepper will bind everything together. The dish is now balanced and complete. Getting it yet? These principles work regardless of the dish you're creating.

So head to the kitchen, see what ingredients you have lying around and have a go. Quality, organic ingredients and a little forethought will do most of the work for you.

Once you've created your masterpiece, you'll want to think about wine…

Matching food and wine

Long gone are the days of red wine with meat, white wine with fish, but there are a few basic rules to follow to ensure a happy marriage.

The first is to balance the weight of the food with the weight of the wine. There's no point, for example, in pairing a light Beaujolais with a rich venison stew – it simply wouldn't stand up. A Shiraz? Now you're talking. The bolder the flavour of the dish, the bolder the wine must be to stand up to it.

And another thing – if you're thinking about serving more than one wine throughout a meal, then serve lighter wines first, and dry before sweet.

Think about how you are cooking your dish – is it to be steamed, or grilled? Roasted, or boiled? Flavours will swing from delicate to big, sweet and punchy. Sauce can throw a match completely, so consider that before pairing up.

Acidity is another key factor. An acidic wine will cut through a fatty dish like a knife, making it seem less rich. It can heighten flavour too, just like a squeeze of lemon does. And talking of lemons, or vinegar, or any dish packed with citrus fruits – the chosen wine must have equal amounts of acidity or it will taste flat.

Finally, tannin. There's only one match out there for a chewy, tannic wine and that's meat - it smoothes out the tannins a treat.

Stocking up
Make sure your pantry and fridge are stocked with a few useful items and it will make your recipe-free meals a whole lot easier, not to mention broadening your capacity to use up leftovers. Listed below are items that keep in the cupboard for up to six months and also everyday fresh ingredients to stock up on once a week and keep in the fridge. Little tip: always a have a ready supply of tinned tomatoes, and for quick soups and stews tinned cannellini and borlotti beans. And keep the drawer in the bottom of your fridge stocked with red onions, celery, carrots, garlic and a few fresh herbs. Choose an olive oil for cooking and an extra virgin oil for drizzling.

Store cupboard

Sea salt
Black peppercorns
Dried red chillies
Stock cubes
Fennel seeds
Dried oregano
Bay leaves
Red and white wine vinegar
Dijon mustard
Tinned tomatoes
Seeds of Change pasta or cooking sauces
Cannellini and borlotti beans
Dried mushrooms
Puy lentils
Risotto rice
Nuts and seeds


Parmesan cheese
Unsalted butter
Free range organic eggs
Red onions
Flat leaf parsley

message posted 16-Nov-11 13:40:02
Hi Stevomc,

I think I have a solution for you. You can get an Australian Government recognized qualification based on your work experience and this could add weight to your CV. Contact me on and I will show you how.

message posted 01-Dec-11 22:32:49
Good on you chef, its the best way to learn and become a quality chef, being mentored my an experienced exec who has taken you under his wing.

But being a good chef, running shifts and ordering/stock takes are just 50% of the role, try and get him to teach you how to manager food margins, develop and cost dishes correctly, see if you can join in with the supplier meetings...........theres so much more, but your off to a cracking start chef.

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